Strange things happen during west coast night games. That sounds like an empty platitude, just like “intangibles” or “the it-factor.” But ask anyone that stays up to watch the late night PAC-12 games, and they’ll tell you that the conference has a reputation for some of its best moments happening when many college football fans are sleeping.
When Michigan State travels to Tempe to face the Arizona State Sun Devils tonight, they would be crazy to think that it’s impossible for them to end up on the wrong side of a wild game. After ASU hired Herm Edwards, they were made fun of by both their rivals and various neutral fans. Many asked why ASU had hired a coach that’s roughly 20 games under the .500 mark in NFL winning percentage.
Meanwhile, archrivals Arizona pulled in Kevin Sumlin, former Texas A&M head coach and someone that’s already experienced the college game and had decent success there. Sumlin would help Arizona improve following a mediocre season, right? Well, so far, Edwards is 1-0 with the Sun Devils and Sumlin is 0-1 with the Wildcats after losing to BYU in the season opener.
While Arizona didn’t look that good against BYU, Arizona State ensured that they’ll enter their second game with momentum. They won by a margin of 49-7, which is impressive even if the opponent was a poor UTSA team. They aren’t expected to win many things like this, but it flashed their potential.
Michigan State will have to be careful of wide receiver N’Keal Harry in specific. Out of his six catches in the UTSA game, two of them were touchdowns. He also had an average of 23.3 yards per reception, and 140 total yards on 6 catches. It was against a bad defense, maybe, but it’s not easy to get those kinds of numbers even against lesser competition.
The ASU defense is a concern for them, and Michigan State’s star duo of L.J. Scott and Brian Lewerke should be able to put up points, but their offense is good enough to make this interesting. Furthermore, Harry was the only ASU receiver to have more than two catches. They could spread the ball around more in this game, giving the Spartans some offensive looks that they haven’t seen yet.
On the other hand, Michigan State enters after looking uninspired at times in a game where they almost blew a lead to Utah State. It’s hard to imagine lightning striking twice, but it shows that hurting the Spartans is easier than some would think. The running game in particular didn’t produce as well as it could have, as Scott finished with less than 100 yards.
If Michigan State expects Lewerke to do everything on offense, they could end up with another scare on their hands. It’s also worth remembering that the game is one of the biggest of the season for Arizona State, and should be their biggest home game other than the one against USC later this year. Some of their biggest matchups are on the road, meaning the atmosphere for this one should be top notch.
There’s no guarantee that Arizona State wins. But if the Michigan State team doesn’t have the possibility in mind, the circumstances are definitely in place for the Sun Devils to give them a run for their money in what would be one of the more exciting games of the week.